When my brother and I were children one of our all-time favourite games was pretending to wait for the bus at the bus stop around the corner from our house. We’d sit on the hard bench protected from the searing sun by a giant OMO ad and just wait. We’d sometimes sit for hours. But eventually we’d hear the low growl of the bus coming down the long straight main road of Alberton that led to the NG kerk – the town’s only attraction. Our hearts would quicken, we’d whip our scruffy little heads around the side of the bus stop, see the large orange bus moving towards us and then we’d get up and run like hell. I don’t know what we thought would happen if the bus actually saw us pretending to wait for it. I do know that one weekday afternoon while my brother and I sat waiting, a lady in a yellowing Cortina stopped, rolled down her window and yelled that she’d tell our mother what we were up to. Everyone was bored in Alberton. Not just us.
Roxi has similar memories of childhood. She has memories of days spent hanging over her front wall waiting for unsuspecting passerbys. One afternoon a large lady with black knee-high boots trotted by and unable to help herself, Roxi called, “Oh mighty booties!”
The lady yelled back: “GAAN SÊ DAAI VIR JOU MA!”
My point is: our parents were onto something. They lived in places where there was absolutely nothing to do. And then left us alone for large tracts of time while they did other things. Like hang up the washing and braai and on occasion walk into the sliding door on a Sunday afternoon after “one too many”. Ok, this might have only happened once.
The reason I bring this up is that we have just survived the Easter holidays with the kids. I didn’t once see them waiting for buses or setting fire to a veld or jeering at the neighbours. They were simply too busy. There were outings to the aquarium, a kiddies birthday party with a pirate theme and puppet show, movies in 3D with popcorn-slush-n-smarties combos and at least one trip to our local firestation. Not to mention an almighty Easter egg hunt and a three-course lunch just incase eating your bodyweight in chocolate bunnies had left you hankering after a salty roast.
It’s been fun. But I am left with the feeling that it would have been nice to have had a bit more time to ourselves. Just a little more time for Roxi and I to hang up the washing or slam ourselves into the sliding door.